I’ve used drugs to numb myself since I was 16. They’ve helped me be there but not really there. When my parents separated, I smoked pot four times a day. When the man I loved didn’t love me back enough, I drank myself silly and snorted cocaine. After my car accident, I fell into the painkiller pothole. And most recently, heroin (and other opiates) helped me cope with my acne problem. Got a bunch of zits? Buy a bag of heroin. Depressed about how you look? Text your drug dealer. What else was there to do?
Caldwell’s essay reveals how identity and substance abuse are often intertwined, especially when one’s superficial identity is consumed by an uncontrollable force like acne.